Ohio House Speaker Linked to Corruption Over Nuclear Plants
(Bloomberg) -- Federal officials said they plan to announce charges Tuesday related to a $60 million bribe in a public corruption case that press reports link to the arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and the bailout of two Energy Harbor Corp. nuclear power plants.
U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have scheduled a press conference at 2:30 p.m. in Columbus to detail charges related to “a public corruption racketeering conspiracy involving $60 million,” according to a release posted online.
The investigation is related to Ohio’s passage last year of a law that bailed out two nuclear power plants, the Toledo Blade reported, citing a source it didn’t identify. FirstEnergy Solutions, a former FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary, changed its name to Energy Harbor when it emerged from Chapter 11 earlier this year.
Householder and four others have been arrested, Cleveland.com reported, citing unnamed sources and media reports. A spokeswoman for Householder didn’t immediately respond to telephone and email messages.
Energy Harbor shares fell as much as 21%. First Energy fell 10%.
While First Energy no longer owns the nuclear plants in the Ohio case, the probe will likely be a drag on the company’s shares in the near term as the market digests the potential implications, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Sophie Karp said in a research note.
Officials at FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor didn’t immediately respond to emails and phone calls requesting comment.
The arrests come less than a week Exelon Corp.’s Commonwealth Edison unit admitted to bribery in connection to lobbying practices in Illinois.
The Ohio arrests come after a nearly two-year investigation into bribes and money laundering by the FBI, the Columbus Dispatch reported, citing a federal investigator involved in the arrests.
The investigation included dinners and meetings between undercover federal agents and Householder and a Columbus lobbyist where the men made incriminating statements about illegal activity and bribes, the newspaper said. More arrests are expected, paper said.
The Ohio law, which Householder championed, was enacted in 2019 and carved out $150 million annually for the Davis-Besse and Perry plants, which the company had said it would close without aid.
Ohio funded the measure by cutting support for wind and solar, which was unprecedented. While New York, New Jersey and Illinois have all subsidized nuclear power as part of their clean-energy strategies, Ohio was the first to do so by directly yanking support from renewables.
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